Why would anyone leave the security and prestige of a job in the Corporate world to set up their own business? For those that have, what challenges did they face? Do they have any regrets?
In the current climate of job insecurity and redundancies, more people may be thinking about setting up their own business.
Over the years I have coached clients who have made this transition – either building on their Corporate experience, or trying something completely new, and I have identified five common challenges they experience. But first…
Why do people leave their Corporate jobs?
Sometimes it’s by choice: (they want to explore their own potential, feel frustrated at not being recognised and rewarded, or to create a lifestyle that suits them including better work life balance). At other times it’s through circumstance: (for example redundancy, or illness such as burnout. Most stress related burnout I have come across isn’t from workload, but from working in toxic environments or under a boss with conflicting values).
Through my “Your Power Behind The Mask” coaching programme, I have worked with people who have left Corporate life and set up their own businesses, especially when they are not achieving the results they expected in their business and they’re not sure why.
From helping these clients transform their business and life, I have identified 5 common challenges:
Challenge 1: Thinking it will be easy to transition into running their own business
Being great at what we do and running a business are two separate skillsets. In a job we often specialise in one area (marketing / IT / finance…) and have a team around us to support us in other areas. When we run our own business we are responsible for everything.
As Michael Gerber states in his book The E-Myth (E being entrepreneur), as a business owner you need to wear three hats. The Entrepreneur (visionary – looks to the future), the Manager (managing functions such as sales / marketing / finance / operations and logistics…), and the Technician (delivering the actual product or service to the customer).
Wearing different hats requires different skills, and to run a business successfully it can take time to develop these.
Tips: Build in time to develop yourself alongside your business – invest in your personal growth as the brand leader. Join a Mastermind group and meet regularly with people with different areas of expertise (marketing, legal, IT…) to share problem solving / skills.
Challenge 2: Believing that work will start coming in straight away
To be recognised as successful in the Corporate world it takes time to establish your reputation. Yet many entrepreneurs put pressure on themselves to jump straight into their business at the same level and get off to a flying start.
Running your own business can bring up internal blocks triggered by limiting beliefs. A common one is the Imposter Syndrome. ‘Why would people pay me to do the job, when there are so many more experienced businesses out there?’ Limiting beliefs affect whether you attract paying customers, how much money you make, and how comfortable you feel marketing yourself. When you grow your comfort zone, you grow your business.
Tip: Working through internal barriers is just as important as working on the external ones. There are lots of courses and resources around personal development, or you could work with a coach.
Challenge 3: Procrastination and accountability
The Corporate world is driven by projects and deadlines, working in teams where we keep each other accountable to get tasks done. Being self-employed can come as a culture shock as you become accountable to yourself. Some people find it difficult to get motivated and procrastinate around doing the things they don’t enjoy.
Tips: Buddy up with other business owners and hold each other accountable. A coach can also help identify and turn around inner unconscious blocks that may be holding you back, or keeping you in avoidance.
Challenge 4: Fear of being too successful
This is especially common for people who have experienced burnout or overwhelm in the past. The thought of having more work that they can handle causes paralysis around promoting their business and affects their confidence. If you come from a culture where long hours are a badge of honour, not working 10-hour days can make people feel guilty and ‘not good enough’.
Tips: Remember you are in control of how much you take on. Having clear boundaries and building in time for self-care is important. Connect with people that can support you during busy times: (virtual assistants, marketing services, or people you can refer additional work to – although remember that with your referral goes your reputation, so refer wisely).
Challenge 5: Personal branding
Working for a known brand with an established reputation provides an automatic sense of credibility. Launching your own brand can make you feel vulnerable – rejection feels more personal. Many owners create a corporate looking brand for their own business which doesn’t always work. This is because people buy into you, and if you use your brand as a mask to hide behind, you create barriers.
Tip: It’s okay to have a company brand, but it’s equally important to work on your personal brand, because that is what stands out when networking and in PR.
So, having taken the leap to run their own business, do many entrepreneurs regret their choice?
In a word – no! When reflecting back on their decision, even though it may have been tough and the lessons hard, I have come across very few people who wish they hadn’t left a job to explore working for themselves.
This is what I hear from business owners (paraphrased):
- I have grown so much as a person, both in confidence and ability.
- I’m doing things I never believed I could. For example, public speaking at national events, putting myself out there on TV and radio. I’ve published my own book, expanded my business overseas, & created a 6-figure business.
- I feel much more relaxed and in control. I still work long hours, but I’m doing it for me, and I can build in flexibility and down-time when I need it.
Reflecting back on the above, if I could leave you with one piece of advice, it’s this:
Our business, life and relationships can only grow to the extent that we do, so for ultimate success as you grow your business, take time to invest in your mindset and physical well-being too, because that is what makes it sustainable.
For more information about the Your Power Behind The Mask coaching programme, please do get in touch: